15 January 2023
On Friday evening 13 January - NOT unlucky for us - some of us had an informal meal and catch up. Pancho Brett, Terry & Jane Foreman, Clive & Sue Dennison, Trevor & Elain Dixon and Alan & Sue Hewitt were staying in York for the weekend.
On Saturday 14th we held the first White Rose meeting of 2023. Unfortunately we were down in numbers owing to ill health and the uncertainty of the rail service.
Attending were Pancho Brett, Terry Foreman, Clive Dennison, Alan Hewitt, Dave Parrish, Trevor Dixon and myself, Buster Browne - see photo.
Apologies from Ken Rutherford, Pincher Martin, Dennis Cook and Jeremy Mackrell. I had contacted Phil Fluke ,new TCA member but he was working.
It was decided that as Torquay was too far to travel, we would attend the HMS Ganges Scarborough weekend in October.
We would possibly have another weekend away in the summer. This to be decided at our next meeting.
After "Up Spirits" Pancho showed us a set of genuine "Pussers" tot measures he had been presented with - also in the photo.
Another good meeting with plenty of laughs. It was great to have our Elder Statesman Pancho Brett to keep us in order.
Next meeting and meal 1st April at 13.00 in the Longboat bar of the Premier Inn, Blossom Street ,York.
The offshore support vessel, MV Topaz Tangaroa has been purchased by the UK Ministry of Defence for conversion to a Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance (MROS) ship. She will arrive at Cammell Laird shipyard on Merseyside during January for conversion and will serve in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary renamed RFA Proteus.
Proteus will be dedicated to safeguarding critical seabed infrastructure and will act as a ‘mother ship’, operating remote and autonomous off-board systems for underwater surveillance and seabed warfare.
The vessel was purchased for £70 Million from Topaz Marine, a subsidiary of P&O Maritime. This modern, 6,000-tonne ship was built in 2019 for work in the offshore oil industry supporting construction, maintenance and inspection work and is equipped to operate autonomous submersibles. VARD designed her and the hull was built by their Tulcea shipyard in Romania and fitted out at their Brattvaag facility in Norway.
The ship has diesel-electric propulsion driving azimuth thrusters at the stern. A dynamic positioning system with powerful twin bow thrusters allows her to hold a precise stationary position when working over subsea installations. She also has good sea-keeping abilities, low fuel consumption and will be well suited to her new role. A ‘moon pool’ – a vertical shaft in the centre of the vessel provides a sheltered way for robot submersibles to be launched or recovered in high sea states. The 98.1 metre-long ship also has a flight deck, a heavy duty crane, 1,000 sq meters of cargo space and a working deck aft. She has previously been employed on undersea construction in the North Sea and more recently on a major wind farm project off Taiwan.
The conversion by Cammell Laird should be relatively straightforward, primarily painting her grey and the addition of light weapon mounts and military communications equipment. Otherwise, the ship is already in good shape for her new role and RFA Proteus will enter service in the summer of this year. A second MROS ship will eventually be constructed from scratch to a bespoke design and is currently in the concept phase. Proteus will be operated by a small RFA crew of 26, augmented by about 60 RN specialists responsible for the undersea surveillance, survey and warfare systems. It is expected she will primarily operate from Portsmouth Naval Base, although RFAs are not usually permanently base-ported like RN vessels
The procurement process has been rapid since the Secretary of State’s announcement in early November. Spurred by the serious threat of Russian interference with subsea assets, the MoD has been scrambling to put this project together in a short time frame. The ship acquisition is relatively simple but in parallel, the RN has been working to procure and equip her with suitable ROVs and UVVs to perform the surveillance task. A cadre of operators will need to be trained up and develop a close working partnership with industry and the owners of the infrastructure.
There are thousands of miles of subsea pipes and cables to be monitored and RFA Proteus is just one small step in the right direction to improving security. With MROSS(1) and its submersibles in service, the UK will at least be able to begin a programme of surveillance of its undersea infrastructure and will have a vessel ready to respond to interference, make assessments and potentially assist in making repairs should they be required.
See also Australian Defence Vessel RELIANT in February’s edition of TON Talk - similar hull, different role …Editor
A second ship, the MV Island Crown, (currently in Norway) has also been purchased by the MoD and is also due to be converted later this year into a mother ship for RN autonomous mine warfare craft. She will also serve in the RFA although her new name has yet to be decided upon. She is likely to be based at Faslane and will operate in support of mine countermeasures tasks around the UK and in European waters.
The funeral of TCA Member A/B Sinclair Livingstone RN, RNVR will take place at Warriston Crematorium, Edinburgh at 11.00 on Saturday 4 February.
TCA members who wish to pay their respects to an old friend will be welcome to attend.
Sinclair was one of the Old and Bold members of TCA, having served on HM Ships KILLIECRANKIE 1948-49 (the old “Mickey Mouse” Motor Minesweeper), RNR CLAVERHOUSE 1952-57 and DERRITON 1954.
Condolences may be sent to his son, also Sinclair and a TCA member, at stan_jock_96@ hotmail.co.uk